The next documentary in Paramount Network’s I Am series will focus on legendary comedian Richard Pryor.
Network Entertainment, created by Derik Murray, has announced the production of I Am Richard Pryor, centering on the comedian’s life and legacy. The film will feature clips from his stand-up specials, The Richard Pryor Show, Lily Tomlin’s television specials and Pryor’s filmography. The documentary will also include interviews with comedians, writers, filmmakers and collaborators including Tiffany Haddish, Mike Epps, Lily Tomlin, Sandra Bernhard, Jimmie Walker, Michael Schultz, Howie Mandel, Henry Jaglom, Dr. Todd Boyd, Ishmael Reed, Scott Saul, Rocco Urbisci, Thom Mount, Ron De Blasio and Pryor’s widow, Jennifer Lee Pryor.
“Pryor’s comic genius was steeped in race, class and social commentary, and encompassed the stage, screen, records and television,” states the press release. “At one point the highest-paid black performer in the entertainment industry, he continually challenged the status quo in a post-civil rights America that was supposedly moving towards normalization.”
“We are excited that Jennifer Pryor has entrusted us to tell Richard’s incredible yet complicated story,” said Murray in a statement. “We are honored to showcase Richard’s genius while delving deeper into the man whose work established him as one of comedy’s most beloved and courageous icons.”
Lee Pryor talked about her husband’s impact on the comedy industry in a statement:
“From very humble beginnings, my husband lifted himself up and propelled himself through an iconic comedy career during America’s rockiest years, tackling racism, transcending boundaries, finding himself and inspiring many,” she said. “I am confident that Network Entertainment will produce an outstanding film about my husband that does him justice both as a cultural icon and as a man.”
Jon Slusser, Paramount Network’s senior vice president of sports and specials, also spoke about Pryor’s innovative quality:
“Richard Pryor was one of the most fearless trailblazers in the history of comedy,” he said in a statement. “We are proud to bring Richard’s story and his message of racial tolerance to our audience in the next installment of our award-winning I Am series.”
Murray and Slusser will executive produce along with Lee Pryor and Paramount Network’s Jaimee Kosanke.